Eat Sleep Run
Have you ever considered The Performance Triangle for your running performance? It is made up of three EQUAL sides consisting of Nutrition, Sleep (and rest) and Training, BUT how many of you give ALL three sides equal priority?
Here we discuss the interconnections of all three aspects of the Performance Triangle. We outline how neglecting one side of the triangle could impact on the other two sides. We then go on to highlight how focusing on just one aspect of the Performance Triangle could bring back balance to all three sides therefore support YOUR running performance.
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Outlining the Performance Triangle and how the 3 different aspects of it interconnect:
The Performance Triangle:
- Sleep (and rest)
An example of how they interconnect is: Someone who is experiencing poor sleep may make poor food choices (e.g. crave carbohydrate/sugar rich foods), both of which could hamper running performance and increase the risk of injury and illness.
BUT, most runners (and athletes in general) tend to focus on TRAINING, neglect nutrition and don’t consider the quantity and quality of sleep (and rest) they are getting on a regular basis.
TRAINING – what needs to be considered:
- Timing of training
- Intensity of training
- Non-Functional Overreaching
- Overtraining Syndrome
SLEEP – what needs to be considered:
- Quantity of sleep (ideally between 7-9hrs)
- Quality of sleep
- Impact on insulin sensitivity
- Impact on glycogen repletion
- As little as 2-4hrs less sleep per night could impact health and performance
NUTRITION – what needs to be considered:
- Food (and beverage) choices
- Timing of food intake
- Quantity of food intake
- Quality of food intake
- It is thought that women require 20mins more sleep than men - this is because (allegedly) women tend to multi-task and use more of their actual brain than men do. This means a greater need for sleep. Essentially, the more you use your brain during the day, the more it needs to rest while asleep.
- It is also thought that although women require more sleep (generally) they do not get it principally due to disturbed sleep during pregnancy, menopausal symptoms (night sweats), worry, and snoring partners.
- Overtraining Syndrome can occur in both men and women, BUT it is more prevalent in women as it is closely linked with Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport and Female Athlete Triad
Highlighting changes that could be made to help bring the Performance Triangle back into balance:
- Get to bed at least 1hr earlier
- Complete ALL work/home tasks by 8pm
- Power Off ALL electronics and TV at least an hour before going to bed
- Prepare your bedroom for sleep
- Choose something RELAXING to do before bed
- Have a nap if required
- Stop coffee intake by midday
- Introduce a sleep friendly snack before bed – Protein/Carbohydrate e.g. cherries or kiwi fruit with Greek yogurt
- Aim to have your main meal no later than 3hrs before bed
- Increase Mg rich foods – DGLV, Nuts/seeds, dark chocolate – Mg known to support muscle relaxation and induce sleep
- Increase daily protein intake – chicken, fish, eggs, turkey, Legumes –to support sleep, muscle strength and repair, to manage body composition and insulin sensitivity.
- Introduce a rest day…or rest days
- Reducing training intensity
- Reassess your running goals
- The Performance triangle is made up of 3 equal sides ands represents Training, Nutrition and Sleep (rest)
- Although attention to the 3 sides of the Triangle need to be equal, most runners (and athletes in general) tend to place most focus on Training
- BUT ignoring any one part of the triangle may cause the other 2 to suffer
- “You snooze, you lose” is an outdated approach to performance, “You snooze (more), you win” is a better motto to follow
- Remember the food choices we make as well as the beverages we drink can have far reaching effects on sleep and performance, as well as everyday health
- And vice versa, poor sleep can result in poor food choices being made, both of which will affect exercise performance
- We said Ignoring any one side of the triangle may cause the other 2 to suffer…..this could be supportive in reverse ie. just by paying attention to one aspect of the triangle it could help bring the whole Performance Triangle back into balance.
- Remember it will be different for everyone, so reflect on which side of the triangle is most out of balance for you and address it. This will help bring balance YOUR performance triangle, thus support YOUR running and performance.
The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and
advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact
your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.
Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell met at as nutrition students (Institute for Optimum Nutrition, London) and became lifelong friends and nutritional buddies! Both have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living.
Together they host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.
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